Key Gathering of Europe Christian Movement in May

Bringing forward the unity of different denominations
( [email protected] ) Apr 23, 2004 07:34 PM EDT

An ecumenical meeting "Europae" is going to be held in early May in the wake of an atmosphere of opinions present in the current Christendom in Europe. This is the historical milestone that marks the first European meeting of Christian churches movements and ecclesiastical communities to offer their contribution to the building of European unity.

The meeting on May 8th will gather some 10,000 people in Stuttgart, German, in addition to 100,000 connected by satellite from more than 150 cities. Organisers outlined plans for the event at a press conference yesterday in Rome.

May 8th is a very meaningful date. It is the anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe. It also celebrates the enlargement of the European Union to 10 new countries, which will take place a few days earlier.

Gathered under the motto "Together for Europe" will be representatives of some 175 movements, communities and Christian groups, as well as 25 Catholic, 14 evangelical, eight Orthodox, and two Anglican bishops, and 30 parliamentarians from 10 countries. Young people too will share their visions for the future of Europe and speak of the commitments they are prepared to assume.

The program features addresses by founders and leaders of movements and communities, including Chiara Lubich of the Focolare Movement, Andrea Riccardi of the Community of Sant'Egidio, and Orthodox priest Heikki Huttunen.

Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and Bishop Johannes Friedrich of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Bavaria will be interviewed on the contributions of the movement to Europe.

As a university professor of history, Andrea Riccardi recalled that the idea of the meeting first emerged at the ceremony of the signing of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification of the Catholic Church and of the World Lutheran Federation in October 1999.

Looking back to the false history of religious conflicts in Europe, Christian leaders lament that Christian heritage has not been upheld powerfully and they really want to restore the history through this very first engagement.

"The Christian roots of Europe are not something that form part of the past," said Riccardi. "Personally I lament the failure to present with greater clarity the Christian history of Europe in the Constitutional Treaty."

"I lament that it was not said that the European Union, basically, began with the failure of Auschwitz, and that no mention is made of anti-Semitism. This memory of the evil that Europe lived through, gives us an orientation for the future," he said.

Speaking on behalf of Chiara Lubich, Gabriella Fallacara explained that "Stuttgart is a point of arrival but also a point of departure; it will be the first of other events, which perhaps will be carried forward by others."

As 10 more countries rise into the European Union, the united Europe is fast becoming a family of all cultures, economy, politics and education. Moreover, it hopes for a spiritual contribution, added Fallacara, director of the Centro Uno for the promotion of ecumenical dialogue.

John Paul II said in Madrid, “I dream of a Europe of the spirit.� This passion has led to several movements setting out to discover in themselves the possibility of making a concrete contribution to the building of a united Europe in the spirit.

The meeting will be followed live via satellite by thousands of people.